Gwynn Park takes state crown with 46-39 win over Milford Mill

Millers lose title game for sixth time in row

Class 3A girls basketball

High Schools

March 16, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Earlier in the week, Milford Mill coach Pam Wright said it would take a miracle for her team to beat defending champion Gwynn Park and come away with the state Class 3A girls basketball championship. The Millers nearly conjured up that miracle last night.

Against a team that had beaten them by 16 points in last year's final, the No. 6 Millers dropped a 46-39 decision to their Prince George's County foes at UMBC's RAC Arena.

The victory gave the Yellow Jackets (25-1) their third state title and left the Millers (22-4) still looking for a crown after six straight losses in the title game.

"It felt good that we had a chance to win," said Milford senior forward Qiana Cheatham, who scored 14. "Nobody expected us to win, but we felt like we really could have won this game. The loss felt bad, but we felt good out there."

Although they seemed overmatched at times, the Millers cut what had been a 14-point Yellow Jackets lead to 40-37 on Chelsea Jeter's layup with 4:54 to go. Jeter later hit a layup on a feed from Shawna Scott to keep the Millers' hopes alive at 43-39.

Both teams missed a few opportunities before Jeter fouled Kremena Brooks going for an offensive rebound with 36.9 seconds remaining. Brooks, who finished with 12 points, hit the front end of the double bonus to clinch the title's return to Gwynn Park.

"If we could have hit just two of those missed layups - we missed four layups down the stretch - and hit free throws, which we had been doing well on, we could have had it. It was there to take," said Wright, whose team equaled the Yellow Jackets' 16 field goals and hit seven three pointers but went 0-4 from the foul line.

Early on, the Yellow Jackets' zone shut off the inside game and covered the Millers' perimeter players, who combined to hit 10 three-pointers in their 48-33 semifinal win over Patuxent on Friday night. But later in the game, the Millers got hot as Cheatham hit four three-pointers and Candyce Jeter, who scored her 1,000th career point last night, and Scott each hit one.

The Yellow Jackets, who finished the season with 19 straight wins, pulled away early, taking advantage of 16 first-half Millers turnovers. Kristen Boone, who had 13 points and 12 steals, had nine steals in the first half alone as the Yellow Jackets converted five Milford turnovers.

After the half, the Millers' 2-3 zone checked the Yellow Jackets and Milford pulled within 23-18 on Candyce Jeter's three pointer, but the Yellow Jackets answered with nine straight points. Boone's 20-footer pushed the Gwynn Park lead to 32-18 with four minutes left in the third before the Millers rallied.

"Some people say, `Oh, you're there. You lost again.' To get here, it's not an easy job no matter who you play, especially to repeatedly get here," Wright said. "The pressure is on us. We've been here six times, and we did a great job to get here. Of course, I want to win this thing. I'm tired of reading the word finalist. When I finally win it, I might go on a six-string of wins."

MM-Ca. Jeter 10, Cheatham 14, Scott 3, Ch.Jeter 6, Carson 6. Totals 16 0-4 39.

GP-Hyson 6, Boone 13, Brooks 12, Watson 7, Crutchfield 2, Barber 6. Totals 16 12-23 46. Half: GP, 23-13.

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